Some jerk returned my car with every warning light illuminated

Aloha. I rent my car to others through a car sharing service. The last renter was … Not the best. In stead of returning it to me, he left it in the airport lot, a total mess. Covered in mud, gas cap missing, and the check engine, VSC Trac and ANOTHER LIGHT (showing a car sliding) were all on, in addition to the maintenance light. I am hoping that when I replace the gas cap all will be well, but I am worried that mud and dirt got in my gas tank while they were tooling around. Do I need to get that 3 step fuel flush done? Is there anything else these jackasses might have done to cause this issue.

There are tons of things that they could have done. Here are a few off the top of my head.

a) gas cap loss
b) vacuum loss
c) oil loss
d) water in gas
e) MAF sensor failure
f) speed sensor loss

I don’t let anyone drive my car… much less a perfect stranger.
How much $ do you get paid for so much risk? Does this car sharing service share in the risk?

On the 4runner if there’s an emission error code then it automatically shuts off Traction Control and ABS. In all likelihood you just need a new gas cap. There’s really no easy to tell if any mud/dirt got in the tank. If so, then I wouldn’t look at a chemical solution. I’d pull the tank and clean it out and replace the filter. There’s an aftermarket pump that puts the filter outside the tank which I think is a much better design.

Renter include credit card number to bill for all damages?

Have you even talked to the car sharing service? I also am one of those who do not let anyone drive my car. As for mud and dirt getting into the fuel tank, slim chance.

I believe it takes a good while before that gas cap missing will get your tank very dirty, depending on the type of driving involved.
I had a foreman driving an F250 that was missing a gas cap for over 2 years. After 2 years, it finally quit. That’s when he informed us that he needed a new gas cap. we dropped the tank and cleaned about 1" of mud out of the bottom. Put on a new fuel filter and a new cap and she fired right back up. I think they also may have flushed the fuel lines the cleaned the fuel pump up as well.

Bad thing was, we then found his original gas cap in the bed of the truck. Needless to say, he was a slob.

Heck, new Fords don’t even have gas caps anymore. I think as far as the cap is concerned, your main concern is the vapor loss and emissions system tripping your CEL.

The lost gas cap set codes in your OBD-II system. Install a new gas cap and see if the CEL turns off. Emissions system codes don’t turn off right away. You will need to drive for a couple of days to reset the CEL. If you are paid by the car sharing service, you need to contact them immediately. They are responsible for the customers they send you. After all, they make money on the transaction too. Find out what information they need, like pictures and repair receipts. If they refuse to help, you might consider an contacting an attorney. But give the car sharing service a chance first.

On the 4runner if there's an emission error code then it automatically shuts off Traction Control and ABS

I’ve always wondered about that one: if (say) your charcoal canister is clogged, or your fuel cap leaky…why then would that have anything to do with your need for, or the vehicle’s ability to provide, antilock braking or traction control? Is it a “cheat code” for hooning? (“Dood! Just loosen the gas cap and do some donuts!”)

I would complain to the service and at least get this renter banned so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

What I would be more concerned about would be the worry over where this person went and how they were driving the car rather than a gas cap issue. The latter is a concern but maybe not the biggest one.

There’s no way on God’s green Earth I’d ever rent or loan a car to a total stranger no matter what service is used. It’s too easy to ruin a good car in one day; or one night of drunken boondocking…


I feel the same as the others about anyone else driving my car. But I don’t know your situation, so I’ll comment on the problem itself.

OK4450 I agree with. You may want to have the car gone over thoroughly by a trusted shop.

Additionally, if the renter was a military member, have the shop detail everything they find and write a formal letter of complain to the command center of whatever base the renter was in. The military operates totally differently in this regard than the civilian world. They have behavioral standards that their members must comply with even when not on base, and they have administrative punishments that don’t exists in civilian life. And any CO (Commanding Officer) that receives documentation of this level of misbehavior by someone under his command WILL address it. The reputation of the military is at stake. The renter deserves whatever he/she may get.

Sincere best.

I've always wondered about that one: if (say) your charcoal canister is clogged, or your fuel cap leaky...why then would that have anything to do with your need for, or the vehicle's ability to provide, antilock braking or traction control? Is it a "cheat code" for hooning? ("Dood! Just loosen the gas cap and do some donuts!")

I have no idea…but it’s clearly spelled out in the owners manual.

Something about this post sounds fishy to me. A car sharing service? With no provisions for vehicle abuse? And no sanctions for returning a vehicle like this? If this service does exist it won’t last long as a business. Hey OP, how about a few details about this service? Is this for real? Rocketman

They may be referring to Zipcar. ???

Zipcar is owned by Avis.

Zipcar has it’s own cars and is responsible for maintenance. This sounds like a service like AirBnb, where they just pair you up with a person that wants to rent your house or apartment for a short period, like a week or weekend while you are away. Only it’s for your car. Basically, you’re trusting an anonymous website to match you up with renters, but you’re responsible to vet them with very ineffective tools available on that site. Just ask the AirBnb user who found out the hard way his renter lied and used his place of a BBW sex party thst got busted by the cops on a nise complaint. Even got the Condo management involved.

There are no Zipcar outfits around here and I’ve never heard of AirBnb. Either one sounds like garbage to me along with other similar outfits.

If I lived in Sturgis, SD I might make an exception if I was a homeowner there. During bike week some people go on vacation for a week after renting out their home or condo for 10 grand a week.
Many of them get a year’s worth of mortgage payments from one week of rent.

There are no Zipcar outfits around here and I've never heard of AirBnb. Either one sounds like garbage to me along with other similar outfits.

They’re good for inner cities like Boston and NYC where many residences don’t own cars (no need to), but still need one a couple times a month. The Zipcars are located in different parking garages around town to make it convenient no matter where you live. I don’t think the model works very well if you live in a city that you can easily drive in. It’s easier to get around in Boston and NYC using the Subway system or walking then it is driving. A couple years ago I was in our Boston office and after work a few of us decided to go get something to eat at this restaurant near Fenway. Three of us walked the 1.2 miles…and a group of 4 drove. We left at the same time and the walking group beat the ones who drove by at least 5 minutes. Then had to wait another 5 minutes for the driver to park the car (pak the ca).

ZipCar owns the vehicles and rents by the hour or day. They get used for a bit or day etc and then parked somewhere. You can locate the (nearest) car via an application and rent. It can very convenient to find the cars.

I see them in my area in coastal NH occasionally as folks use them to take a ride to coast or even ski area’s if you need to drive from city. I think they tend to be in college towns based on listings:

I have heard of also using loaning your own vehicle out services. I believe they have a protection AND liability policy attached. Example >>>

Hi, please excuse the delay in updating, I didn’t have too much to update with until now.

Living on an island, it is no easy feat to get in to the dealership, even just for a diagnostic check. Next available appointment was in 2 weeks - not to repair, just to diagnose. The local shop I take the car to for oil changes, etc. wanted to run a bunch of flushes but I was really hesitant to do that. So I did a little online sleuthing, and found a solution that seemed like - even if it didn’t work - it would be harmless to try. First, I put on a new gas cap for my specific make and model, closed it until it clicked once, then disconnected the positive connection on the battery for 30 seconds and reconnected it. Started the car up and the warning lights were all gone.

Renting out this particular car is not an issue for me, because it is not our primary vehicle. It is 9 years old, paid off, and starting to rust. My son is going to get his license next year and until then it was just sitting in our yard - would rather have it being used. And in fact, the rental fees cover payments and insurance on our other vehicles. The company I use to rent out my car was a bit delayed in their response but I have heard from them and yes, they do have a credit card on file to cover damages, as well as an insurance policy in place in case I need to make a claim. I notified them immediately, then sent them photos, and asked them to please be sure he does not rent again. I also can leave a “review” outlining my experience and rating him.

Thank you all for your responses, I am reading them all now - what a great crew :slight_smile: I will let you know if those warning lights come back on, and if so, what I end up doing about it.